On 05 June 2016 at 3pm, a long lost WWII Purple Heart was returned to the son of a WWII hero 2LT De Vere J. Johns. The ceremony took place at their family home in Parsippany, NJ.
2nd Lieutenant De Vere J. Johns (SN: 0-693501) was born 30 June 1919 in Woodlawn, Beaver County, Pennsylvania to Russia Joel “Rush” and Anna Ara Anderson Johns. He had two brothers, Kermit and Kenneth, and two sisters, Edna and Bernice. He would later enlist into the U.S. Army Air Corps on 12 July 1941 and was assigned to the 702nd Bomber Squadron, 445th Bomber Group (Heavy) in World War II. He was a Navigator on a B-24 Liberator (SN: 42-110048) called the “Paper Doll II”. While on a bombing run over Germany, 2LT Johns was Killed in Action when his plane was shot down over Munich on 13 April 1944. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold, France.
At the time of his death, he was married to Oneida Hilda Johns and had one child, a son, Mr. Lawrence De Vere Johns. Born in September of 1942, Lawrence was just 2 years old when his father passed. Some 72 years later, a piece of his father was returned.
His Awards and Decorations consist of the Air Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign Medal, and Navigator Wings.
The medal was discovered by Beth Ann Mayle from Minerva, Ohio. Her grandfather rescued the medal from a flea market near Leeper, Pennsylvania three years ago. He gave it to his granddaughter before his death in the hopes she could find the family.
Purple Hearts Reunited was able to find 2LT Johns son by locating Mr. Kenneth Johns Jr., the son of 2LT John’s brother, Kenneth Johns. Kenneth just happens to be the family historian.
Returning the medals on behalf of Purple Hearts Reunited was their founder, Zachariah Fike.